So I’m bad at taking care of myself, okay? I eat too much food or I don’t eat anything at all, I don’t buy new clothes unless they have physically fallen apart in some area that covers my bum or breasticles (frayed and holey cuffs are fine because who even looks at those anyway?), I don’t take the multivitamins concerned friends and family buy for me because I forget and also they taste like potpourri, I stress myself until I either faint or fall asleep in the middle of the day for 14 hours, I never start Uni assignments until the day before they’re due, and my toenails have needed clipping for like three days and I still haven’t done it.
I’m really bad at being a competent grown up.
The worst part, in the sense that it seems to bother my longsuffering loved ones the most, is my disinclination to ever see a doctor. I like to think of it as an adorable quirk! You can too.
I mean, I’m not CRAZY about it: As I very sensibly explained to my manfriend Amos last night, I would of course go to a doctor if I was hit by a car or if a piano fell on my head or something. I would obviously need medical care in those cases. I’m not AFRAID of doctors the way I’m afraid of, for example, spiders, driving, men in business suits (WHAT ARE THEY UP TO???), things that look like spiders from a distance, people looking over my shoulder at something that might be a spider, or groups of judgemental schoolgirls on the tram. It’s not that I have an emotional, moral or religious objection to seeking medical help. I just don’t think it’s always obvious, the way it would be if your legs were trapped under a large piece of farm equipment (eg: a cow), that there’s actually something wrong.
The last three times I’ve waved aside people’s concerns and not gone to a doctor for ages and ages and ages, I’ve had totally rational, valid reasons for it. Bodies are weird and mysterious and ambiguous sometimes. You can’t always tell that there’s something really wrong. It’s just been my bad luck that in my case(s), there actually was.
Last year. Manfriend and I had just gotten back from India where we’d spent part of our honeymoon, because it’s not a really romantic getaway if you don’t walk past at least six people pooping per day. Awesome trip, highly recommend if you’re up for an adventure.
My stomach didn’t agree however, and I’d been unable to eat or keep anything down or not feel really weak and fevery for several days. We got back home and it got worse. I was losing weight and couldn’t even drink water and my friends said I looked all grey and dead.
BUT. Okay. I’d just been to INDIA. Everyone gets stomach problems over there. It’s normal. All the guidebooks say that you should expect it and to wait at least 72 hours before worrying. I was giving it some time to get better! Plus I couldn’t really stand up so I couldn’t go to the doctor anyway, but if I did, they’d just think I was a spoilt little first-world traveller: “Um, yeah, of course you feel sick. You went to INDIA, you delicate little orchid. Drink some Gatorade and harden the fuck up.” I felt too fragile to deal with that kind of professional scorn.
After several days of not feeling awesome and having all my friends, family and workmates express serious concerns (of course I went to work – I was FINE), I finally relented and went to the doctor to shut them all up. A couple of days later, she called with the results.
Doctor: “Hi, where are you?”
Me: “At work. Sup?”
Doctor: “You have dysentery.”
Me: “What? Like, the actual dys? WOAH! Cool!”
Doctor: “No, not cool. This kills people. It’s very contagious and serious.”
Doctor: “You need to start medication right away. Don’t touch anyone. Don’t come in contact with pregnant women. Don’t prepare food for anyone. Try not to come in contact with anyone who works in the food service industry.”
Me: (thinking about my restaurant-manager husband) “Oops again?”
Doctor: “I have a prescription waiting for you. Get it as soon as you can.”
And then I took the pills and the World Health Organisation called me because they have to monitor every case of The Dys in Australia because they get all alarmed about it and I was FINE. Eventually. But you can see why I didn’t really worry, right?
Last year again. It was winter, I was sick, flatmates were sick, workmates were sick, you were probably sick, everyone was sick. My throat hurt heaps and I couldn’t talk, swallow or touch my glands (haw haw “glands” sounds like “glans” and that is a part of the peen!), my ears hurt and my right eye went all weird. Whatever, it’s WINTER. Everyone gets sick. Harden the fuck up again, am I right? No reason to get antibiotics for something that’s just going to go away with some Vitamin C and rest.
I vitamin C-ed, I drank hot lemon and ginger drinks, I rested kind of, and I even got myself some eye drops from the pharmacy. It was all good. I didn’t take anything for my fever because a fever is your body’s way of burning out the sickness I’m pretty sure, and it knows what it’s doing.
I went to work because I’d been sick for ages so I wasn’t contagious anymore, probably, but not being able to speak made it a bit hard to do my job because I’m the lady that answers the phones. At my lunchbreak, I went to a doctor down the road and he looked at the parts of my head that were causing all the fuss.
Doctor: “How long have you felt like this?”
Me: “Maybe two weeks? I know that’s not long – I know it’s just a cold and I should let it heal. I’m being a hypochondriac, sorry.”
Doctor: “You’re being an idiot.” (He actually said that. It was brilliant.)
Me: “So… I’m not really sick? I’m sorry for wasting your t-“
Doctor: “You have a serious sinus infection and conjunctivitis.”
Doctor: “If you’d left this untreated, you could have risked permanent damage to your vision and hearing. You’re on your way to developing tonsillitis as well.”
Me: “Oh. So… I should keep taking Vitamin C?”
Doctor: “I’m going to give you prescriptions for all this and tell you to rest. Are you going to take the antibiotics?”
Doctor: “I’m not trying to be mean. These are the facts: If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re going to get permanent damage. It’s your body though; you can do that if you like.”
Me: (quietly) “No. I bought eye drops?”
Doctor: “Those do nothing.”
Me: “Oh. (sad face)”
Again, probably regrettable in hindsight, but completely understandable. It was winter! Everyone’s sick! How was I supposed to know the difference between just normal sick and “blah blah permanent damage” sick? Like I said before, bodies are mysterious.
Yesterday. And I maintain that this one, like the other two, was NOT MY FAULT. Here is why: I was all nauseous and dizzy for a couple of days, but Amos and I had road-tripped to Apollo Bay so I figured it was just the Great Ocean Road making my delicate tummy all sad. I took some ginger tablets and tried not to be such a big baby. Then at work on Monday I kept throwing up, but I didn’t have any other symptoms except constant nausea and a really sore stomach, but that’s all part of the same “throwing up” package. I wasn’t sick-sick.
After work, I went home and felt all weird and dizzy, so I swooned a little as my body took care of itself. I’d been throwing up, hadn’t eaten, my blood-sugar and hydration levels were probably all crappy: The swooning was my body sorting itself out. Clever body! It doesn’t need me to do anything. It knows what it needs. After a few minutes, I could stand up again and I was fine. Amos didn’t seem to understand this.
Amos: “You look green.”
Me: “I’m standing up! I’m fine.”
Amos: “I want to take you to a doctor.”
Me: “Pfffft no.”
Amos: “You’re really not okay. Please let me take you to a doctor.”
Me: “I can’t go to the doctor. I’m not wearing a bra.”
Obviously that was the winning argument in the sense that it was perfectly rational and it made Amos not want to talk to me anymore for a bit because I was being so annoying, but a few minutes later he called me over to the computer.
Amos: “So I’ve googled your symptoms and it says you need to go to a doctor RIGHT NOW.”
Me: “It does not. (reading over his shoulder) Oh. It does. But that’s for people who are throwing up blood.”
Amos: “YOU ARE!”
Me: “Yeah, but, okay, maybe it’s not blood. Maybe it just looks like blood. I’d go in and they’d be like, ‘You just ate something weird, stop wasting my time.’ Like that guy on Scrubs who thought there was blood in his stool but it was just pimento.”
Amos: “It says you could have cancer.”
Me: “Everything online says you could have cancer.”
Amos: “Yellow fever.”
Me: (reading over his shoulder) “Yes. I have a serious disease caused by South American mosquitoes. From all my recent jaunts to Brazil.”
Amos: “Go to a doctor!”
But then I did end up going to a doctor the next day (yesterday). I apologised for wasting his time and assured him that I’d probably just eaten something bad and apologised again for being so lame about it. And I was right, I’m FINE.
I mean, “fine” in the sense that I have a bleeding ulcer and the doctor said if I throw up one more time I have to go to hospital, but ulcers aren’t that big a deal anymore and I’m just going to take some pills for a month and I will be all better again. The doctor also wanted me to have a blood test to rule everything else out and make sure I hadn’t lost too much blood, but I’m choosing to take that as optional because I have the pills now and I don’t feel that dizzy or anything, so I’m just going to take the meds and let them fix me without clogging up the system with my blood tests that will show nothing wrong.
So as you can see from these three stellar examples, I’m bad at taking care of myself, but it’s not my fault. Bodies, man. They be trippy.